David Blatt acknowledged this week that LeBron James calls many of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offensive plays – which some say is proof that Blatt has no real control or authority in Cleveland.
Blatt doesn’t see it that way. In fact, not only is he okay with James calling plays, but he also encourages it.
Is this something that James did in Miami?
Alonzo Mourning – Vice President of Player Development for the Heat – doesn’t know.
“I wasn’t on the sidelines with him,” Mourning said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney, “but you know what? I’ve seen guys like Magic and Michael – the great, great great ones – and he’s one of them, obviously, (call plays). I think coaches do throw that trust into those players because they know the system. They know what it takes. And I’m almost sure that there might have been some times (that) happened. I’m not sure. When you think of the great ones, yes, they do do that – because the coaches trust that they’re going to make the right decisions.”
It is unknown how many plays Mourning called for Miami, but the seven-time All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2006 NBA champion certainly earned that right during the course of his career.
And to think, Mourning – a native of Chesapeake, Virginia – almost became a (Virginia) Cavalier when he was in high school.
It breaks Tiki Barber’s heart.
Mourning’s first college visit was actually to Virginia, and he was very impressed with what he saw. His last visit, however, was life-changing. It was Georgetown.
“I ran into a guy named John Thompson,” Mourning said, “and something about him – he has pretty good skills to influence players, especially when he was the very last visit.”
Mourning played for Georgetown from 1988 to 1992. As a senior, he was a consensus first-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year.
“He treated us like we were his sons,” Mourning said of Thompson. “There was a very nurturing effect to his coaching. Education was the No. 1 priority. His practices were like his classrooms.”
Mourning, who was the second overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, remembers one incident in particular.
“We were about to practice one day and we’re all shooting around getting warmed up and ready to go,” Mourning recalled, “and he blew the whistle and made everyone sit on the bleachers. And he pulled up his chair and he said, ‘I want to ask you all: There’s something that went on in the world today, and I want to know if you all know what it was.’ So we’re all looking around at each other.”
It was 1989.
“So one of the managers raised his hand,” Mourning said. “They tore down the Berlin Wall. So he looked at the players, and he was like, ‘I’m ashamed of you guys. You go to this prestigious college. You all should know what’s going on in current events.’ He was ranting and raving. And so, since then, after that day, I would always look at the front cover of the newspaper every day. It’s a habit now.
“So he just made us more responsible men. He really did.”